Afterlife With Archie #2 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Comics Review)

A month ago, I could never have imagined the concept of mashing Archie with zombies. I mean, that’s as far out of the norm as you can get right? Its like mixing Stargate with classical zombies. Which is why the execution has to be pitch-perfect. There can’t be any room for a drop in quality or anything. You have to be consistently good or the premise is going to just conk out like a bad engine. Which is why I approached Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie #1 with a little trepidation last month, and why I was so impressed with it. They hit the exact right notes and delivered a fantastic story.

The second issue, which launched this week, continues the story of this quite horrifying zombie apocalypse as it ravages the quiet, wholesome and good-old-fun town of Riverdale. In the first issue, we saw how one person’s mistake, a second’s longing, and a third’s compassion brought about this whole event. In the new issue, we gain a wider perspective on things as the plague spreads through Riverdale and as the heroes begin to coalesce and decide their future.

Afterlife With Archie 02Archie comics are usually quite upbeat stories about the various pranks that the characters pull off, their good-natured rivalries, their ambitions for romance, and so on. Not so with this one. Here, Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla are telling a really serious story with some real consequences as some characters fall to the zombie plague and are then reanimated to spread the plague further and further. And where in the first issue we saw events as they happened in real-time, in this issue we see them all as narration, primarily through Veronica herself.

First off, this continued to be a very emotional story for me. I kind of grew up with these characters and watching them go through all the horrible stuff here… it really feels depressing. And I suppose that’s exactly the point. You are supposed to feel for these characters, to be sickened by the same things that they are. To feel their frustrations and their anger and their fear. And this is what kept me going throughout the issue. Jughead, the embodiment of everything that makes the Riverdale setting what it is, is public enemy number one here, he’s spreading the zombie plague through Riverdale High and he has already claimed three victims.

Aguirre Sacasa on the script and Francavilla on the art do an absolutely amazing job in that respect. They get you to really sympathise with this characters. And everything is always in character. Veronica, when she handles the narration, comes across as true to her character. Her rivalry with Betty for Archie’s love is always in the forefront. But her feelings for Ethel show a very different side to her character that you wouldn’t normally expect. Her father, Mr. Lodge, is the ever-cynic when it comes to Veronica’s friends at Riverdale High, especially Archie. He’s been one of my favourite characters for a long time and seeing him in this issue was quite rewarding. Mostly because of the whole bomb that Veronica drops on him when she tells him what she did during the dance and the consequences of it.

We don’t get to see much of Archie and the usual cast since the action is very focused on Jughead, well, eating one of his friends and we also get to see some of the non-regular cast. Such as Cheryl Blossom and her brother, who seem to have a somewhat incestuous relationship. Or Ginger and Nancy who have an ongoing relationship that they’ve been keeping under the wraps from everyone. Its really great that the setting has incorporated same-sex relationships, moving the entire setting forward into a much more modern time and that the writer is making the effort to present the relationship as real and complex.

Like I said, the art is fantastic, the kind that you just can’t have enough of. Francavilla is a massively talented artist and he does horror really well. From start to finish, he creates a really creepy vibe that keeps you on the edge of the seat to find out what is going to happen next to the characters. Aguirre-Sacasa’s script is brilliant, but Francavilla’s artwork does its job as well with all the muted yellows and blues and oranges and the whole dark meta-theme that is going on. This was artistically one of the best issues I’ve read all month.

If there is any flaw to this issue, it is that we don’t see what’s happened to Hot Dog, Jughead’s dog, and to Sabrina, who brought him back from the dead in the first issue. And that’s more of a story-choice thing than an actual flaw, so I can give it a pass. I just hope that we learn more in the next few issues, especially with Sabrina since she was in a real bind in the last issue.

Other than that, another marvellous offering from Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Afterlife With Archie: #1.

Posted on November 25, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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